Dealing with a Loved One’s Suicide

Dealing with a relative’s suicide is especially difficult because the death could have been prevented. Naturally, family members and relatives have feelings of self-blame. Many ignore the warning signs of suicide. Furthermore, other people are unaware of the signs. Those close to the victim generally did not realize the severity of their condition. Most people suffer from occasional depression and anxiety. Yet, they tend to feel better over time. Suicides can take everyone off guard, leaving family and friends with hurt feelings, regret, and confusion. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with a suicide. Here are a few tips to help you get through this tough period.

Grieve. Before taking the steps to cope with a suicide, allow yourself to grieve. The grieving period is different for each person. Some may be able to pull themselves together after a couple of weeks, whereas others need more time. Whichever the case, this is normal. Parents and spouses tend to grieve for a longer period. Losing a child or life partner can leave a huge void. Moreover, adjusting to life without the person presents its own daily challenge. While grieving, some family and friends will experience a range of emotions – shock, depression, anger, etc. Do not hold back.

Stop Blaming Yourself. Because suicides are preventable, some family members and friends enter a period of self-blame. This generally consist of thoughts such as, “I should had done something,” and “this is all may fault.” Do not blame yourself for a loved ones suicide. Those who take their own lives deal with overwhelming emotions caused by deep pain, depression, and other mental illnesses. The first step to moving on is recognizing that your loved one was ill. There is nothing you could have done to prevent their actions.

Take Some Time Off. Of course, not everyone is in a position to take a leave of absence from work, or take a much needed vacation. However, if this is doable, get away for a few days or weeks following the funeral. A change of scenery may do you some good. Visit relatives, go on vacation, etc. If you cannot afford to leave town, simply take a vacation from work. This allows time for you to relax and gather your thoughts. After a loss, employers are usually sensitive to your immediate needs.

Join a Support Group. Talking to someone about your feelings may work wonders. Depending on your level of grief, you may consider one-on-one counseling with a trained mental health professional. Counselors and therapists are very effective with helping people cope with the loss of loved one. Moreover, you can take advantage of support groups. Many hospitals and community centers offer support groups for suicide victim’s survivors. Those who attend groups understand your feelings. This forum offers the chance for open communication. In most cases, talking about our pain is a great tool for coping.

Recognizing the Signs of Suicide:

Family history of suicide (parent, sibling, grandparent, etc.)
History of mental illness (depression, schizophrenia, etc.)
Talking about death
Dealing with a recent loss of loved one
Change in personality
Change in behavior or moods
Low self-esteem
Sleeping habits change (sleeping less, insomnia, nightmares, sleep walking)

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